WTO: U.S. COOL Regs in Violation

November 18, 2011 06:29 AM

The World Trade Organization (WTO) today sided with Canada and Mexico against U.S. country of origin labeling rules (COOL), saying the reg is "inconsistent with the United States' WTO obligations."

Link to WTO dispute settlement.

In particular, the Panel found that the COOL measure gives imported Canadian cattle and hogs less favorable treatment than to like domestic products. The Panel also found the COOL measure does not fulfil its legitimate objective of providing consumers with information on origin.

The U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) said they were pleased the panel affirmed the right of the U.S. to require COOL for meat products, but disagreed with the specifics on how the U.S. designed those requirements. In a statement, the USTR office said, "We remain committed to providing consumers with accurate and relevant information with respect to the origin of meat products that they buy at the retail level. In that regard we are considering all options, including appealing the panel’s decision."

National Cattlemen's Beef Association (NCBC) vice president of government affairs, Colin Woodall, said the WTO ruling containers far-reaching implications. "NCBA strongly advises the United States not to appeal this ruling. Instead, we urge U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk to work with NCBA and other pro-trade organizations to apply pressure on Congress to bring the United States into WTO compliance across the board. We must act quickly before U.S. farmers and ranchers once again face unnecessary and unfortunate retaliatory tariffs on their products."


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